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Kermet Apio's Laugh Corner

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May 2005




Writing this column has reconnected me to lots of Hawaii people I haven’t talked to in a while, many of whom I owe money. I have also met a lot of wonderful people from Hawaii. I mention this not to say that I am looking for new people to borrow money from, but to point out one question that always pops up when transplanted locals meet for the first time: “What school you went?”

Loosely translated, “What school you went?” means “If I may be so bold as to inquire something of a personal nature, I was wondering under which state of Hawaii academic institution did you complete your secondary education?” This is a vital part of local to local communication. It is akin to that moment when two dogs sniff each other’s butt. It is a way to gather information about the person without having to steal their purse or wallet.

‘WSYW?’ is a conversation starter. For instance, “Oh, you went to Waipahu . Well, I think pancit is tasty!” Or “You went to Kahuku. Wow, you may have thrown a rock at our team bus in 1985. Small world.” Or “You went to Waianae. That’s great. No, I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not being sarcastic. I would never diss you. No, I don’t want to step outside. Who said anything about your Mom? Oh, God…” FYI: It is always best when meeting the Waianae grads not to make eye contact until given permission.

Knowing the person’s high school helps in a situational sense as well. When you meet someone who went to St. Louis, it is best to give him your license and registration and politely tell him you didn’t realize you were going that fast. When you meet someone who went to Castle, you should tell them you enjoyed “Cannonball Run-The Musical” whether you did or not. It is also impolite to ask them if the theater validates parking.

Sometimes the stereotypes don’t apply. For example, if someone tells you that they went to Iolani, you may think private school, maybe doctor, or lawyer, or entrepreneur. When in actuality, he may just be an unknown comedian who tells jokes in Howard Johnson’s lobby bars. That example is, of course, purely hypothetical.

Then there are the rivalries. I know when Iolani and Punahou grads meet there is usually a few minutes of verbal jabs and then everyone puts the Klingon masks back on as it is bad form to break character at the Star Trek conventions. If a Waianae grad meets a Nanakuli grad, seriously, call security.

Occasionally the follow up question to ‘WSYW?’ is “You know (insert name of person you don’t know)?” People always take the chance that you knew Willie De Silva from the class of ’32. I don’t even remember people from MY class. I barely remember people I met two weeks ago. Plus, I was drunk through most of 1985. Chances are if I know your friend or cousin, I owe them some kind of apology. Or money.

I realize that there are those of you who read this column who are not from Hawaii (His name is Stan. Nice guy.). All you have to do is substitute Garfield, Franklin, Lakeside, Ballard, and Puyallup for the Hawaiian schools in the order you find most hilarious. You’re welcome, Stan.

Remember that ‘WSYW?’ is just an ice breaker and we should look beyond the high school stereotypes and get to know each individual for who they are, not for where they got their diploma. Because when the temperature hits 30 degrees in December, we all freeze the same way. Here in the northwest we are all one. Except the Punahou people. They’re poopyheads. And they speak bad Klingon.

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